URL Shortener: Fast, Free and Unlimited

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URL shorteners like are commonly used to create shortened links that redirect to longer pages. These shortened links are convenient for sharing on social media, in texts, or in other space-limited situations. However, there are some risks associated with using services like This article will provide an in-depth look at how works, the potential risks, and alternative options to consider.


A URL shortener is a simple tool that takes a long URL and turns it into a shorter, more condensed version. The shortened URL still leads to the original page, but it consists of just a few characters. is one of the most popular free URL shorteners available today. Launched in 2009, quickly became the go-to tool for creating shortened links. The service is easy to use and allows users to customize shortened URLs for branding purposes.

Here are a few key facts about links redirect to the original URL and will continue to work as long as that URL is active. If the original page is deleted, the link will lead to an error page.

Links created with are anonymous and don't reveal information about the original URL or the person who shortened it. offers advanced link creation options like custom URLs, QR codes, and link tracking.

Over 1 billion links are clicked every month, making it one of the most widely used URL shorteners.

In summary, is appreciated for its simplicity, customizability, and overall usefulness for condensing links to be easily shared online. However, there are some potential downsides of using a URL shortener that obscures the original URL, which will be explored throughout this article.

How Works

Using to shorten links is very straightforward. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a shortened URL:

Go to

Paste the original long URL into the box on the homepage

Click "Shorten URL"

Copy the new shortened link that is generated

And that's it! The shortened link can now be shared anywhere a long link would be inconvenient.

When someone clicks the link, it will redirect them to the original page. The click also gets tracked on's statistics page, so users can see how many clicks their links are getting.

Some key advantages of using include:

Short links: Converts long, unwieldy URLs into short 6-character links

Customization: Users can customize the end of the URL for branding purposes

Link tracking: provides statistics on the number of clicks for each link

QR codes: Users can generate QR codes that lead to the shortened link

No login required: does not require an account or login

However, there are also some disadvantages to keep in mind:

Security risks: Hiding the original URL can obscure threats (more on this below)

Link rot: If the original URL stops working, the link also dies

Limited control: Users cannot delete or fully manage links once created

Overall, is one of the simpler URL shorteners available. It excels in ease of use but lacks some of the more advanced features of competitors. The biggest considerations are the potential security implications of obscured URLs.

Risks of Using

While URL shorteners provide a lot of convenience, they also come with certain risks. Understanding the potential dangers of using services like is important for staying safe online.

How Works

To understand the risks, you first need to know what's happening behind the scenes when you use When you enter a long URL, generates a unique identifier to assign to that URL. For example, the shortened link simply tells servers to redirect to the page assigned to abc123 in their database.

This abstraction layer between the shortened link and original URL is what creates a potential security problem. You can't immediately see where the link leads based on the URL alone.

Link Tracking uses link tracking to collect information every time someone clicks on a shortened link. It records the IP address, location, device details, operating system, and browser of each click.

This data allows to provide click statistics while also gathering detailed analytics about who is clicking the links. While this information is primarily used to improve the service, it could potentially be tied to individual users and present privacy issues.

Risks of Sharing Links

The biggest risk with shortened links is that you don't actually know where the link leads before clicking. For example, the link may sound legitimate but actually redirect somewhere malicious.

Some other potential dangers include:

Malware: links could redirect to sites that download malware or viruses.

Phishing: allows anyone to create links, including scammers using links for phishing emails to steal personal information.

Scams: Fraudulent links promising free gift cards or other promotions could trick users into providing personal information or payments.

Spam: Spammers use URL shorteners to hide originating URLs and bypass filters.

Tracking users: click tracking feature could be used to monitor people who click on links.

The lesson here is that shortened URLs obscure the ultimate destination. Blindly clicking links without knowing where they really lead can be dangerous. Use caution, especially with links from unknown or untrustworthy sources.

Alternatives to

While is one of the most popular URL shorteners, there are many alternative services available. Here is an overview of some other top options:


One of the first and most widely used URL shorteners

Offers advanced analytics and management of links

Ability to edit, customize, delete or retract links

More security features like link scanning

Pros: Powerful link management capabilities, very popular and trusted

Cons: Requires an account, more complicated to use


Very simple and easy to use like

No accounts or logins necessary

Custom URLs available

Real-time click analytics

Pros: Simple and anonymous, no signup required

Cons: Less flexibility and control over links


Focused on customization for social media marketing

Change link names, create branded domains

In-depth analytics on clicks and engagement

Integration with Buffer and Slack

Pros: Highly customizable links, great for social marketing

Cons: Focus on social branding rather than general link shortening

Firebase Dynamic Links

Short links that dynamically adapt based on device

Built specifically for mobile apps

Track app installs, impressions, and usage

Pros: Specialized for mobile developers and marketers

Cons: Not as full-featured as broader tools above

The choice depends on your specific needs. For example, social media marketers may prefer Rebrandly while app developers would use Firebase Dynamic Links. Take into account the advantages, limitations, and security of any URL shortener before choosing one.

Protecting Your Privacy

While URL shorteners provide a lot of convenience, it's important to keep online privacy and security in mind. Here are some tips to avoid problems when using services like

Avoid Suspicious Links

Be wary of shortened links from unknown sources or in suspicious emails, texts, or social media messages. Hover over the link to see if the preview URL matches what you expect. When in doubt, don't click.

Use Link Scanning Tools

Services like VirusTotal allow you to enter a suspect shortened link to scan it for threats before clicking. This helps identify malicious or dangerous redirects.

Check the Destination

Rather than clicking directly, paste the shortened URL into a browser to see where it really leads. This allows you to verify the safety of the ultimate destination before proceeding.

Use URL Expanders

Tools like will reveal the original long URL from a shortened link. This lets you see the full source before deciding whether to click.

Avoid IP Loggers

Some shortened links are actually IP loggers, which record and expose details like your IP address, location, and device details. Steer clear of any link requesting access to this kind of information.

In general, never blindly click shortened links, even if they appear to come from a friend. Using scanning tools and checking the ultimate destination first helps protect your privacy and security.


URL shorteners like provide an easy way to create shortened links to share across the web. However, these shortened URLs also obscure the ultimate destination and can potentially hide threats.

To use safely:

Exercise caution when clicking shortened links, especially from unknown sources. Check where they really lead first.

Use alternatives like Bitly or TinyURL that offer more visibility and control over shortened links.

Monitor your privacy by avoiding IP loggers and being careful not to enable tracking without your knowledge.

The convenience of shortened links comes with some risks. Following best practices for verifying links and protecting your online presence will allow you to utilize and similar tools more securely.

Shortened URLs are a fact of life online today. Just remember to look before you click. Taking a few quick steps to check links first goes a long way in preserving both safety and anonymity.